Author Archives: William Ramp

William Ramp teaches sociology at the University of Lethbridge, in Alberta, Canada. He’s bemused to find himself in his sixth decade, nursing both a long and faulty memory, and age-inappropriate attitudes. He is fortunate to be organized, inspired and kept in line by dear friends and cheerfully-irreverent children. He contends as best he can with a host of garden-variety demons, imagining that some day he will beat them all, but suspecting he really should invite them in for coffee and a chat at fireside. Though trained in academic prose, he’s returning to a love of creative and incidental writing left behind in high school. That love is now his lifeline; a way to retain a footing on new paths and to contribute to uncaged and free-range conversation. His interests tend to be intellectual, but he delights in poring over antique machinery, grafting strange sprigs onto unsuspecting trees, listening to frogs in spring, watching thunderstorms outside and in bare feet, and talking to crows and magpies. He bumbles at night around the porch-lights of culture and ideas, and gravitates to redolent old things left at the curb of modern life. He tries not to let frustration with bad politics and worse news eclipse his sometimes wayward and over-ardent affections for the things of this world. Banner(1) photo used by permission of photographer Penny McCoy:; banner(2) photo used by permission of photographer Bradley Rawlings; headshot photo by Louis-Philippe Valiquete, Laboratoire d'études durkheimienne, UQAM.

What images Say: On Amateur Photographs & Ways To See Them

“I’m writing this while listening to news of devastating fires in California. Climate change has made catastrophic fire events a new normal in Western North America. Every household is now urged to put together a ‘go bag’ or ‘bug out bag’ against potential evacuation, including identification and ownership documents and family photos. These days, as […]

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Sic Transit: On the Love of Portable Plants

“Cut flowers are often left at gravesites and at locations where sudden death has taken place. Their cutting and consequent wilting provides a symbolic parallel to the ephemerality of human existence and of the ties we make in our mortal lives. To be born is not only to leave the womb but to be severed […]

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Not Well Aged

“As they age, both women and men now become less visible, if at different rates and to different degrees. (It is likely that those egotistical and misogynistic men who aggressively deny that this process applies to them are driven by a repressed and powerful fear of it, just as were the men who used vanitas […]

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Love Notes I: A Rebuke

“Mansfield’s note, then, speaks of more than the universal love triangle. It also sounds out from the now-silent world of the early 20s in Europe and urban America; one in which moral, class and artistic certainties had been shattered by war, though they were still clung to by churchmen and the old families, and brandished […]

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Of Nostalgia & Going Sideways Beautifully (Best of WH)

“There were fishing folk online, and their love of and longing for the boats and the water was palpable and poetic. What little I knew of tug crews from my early life had been different: these could be hard men; rough, no-nonsense and quick with profanity when a lubber or another boat got in their […]

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Trash Talk

“I am known for walking with my eyes to the ground. This may be taken by some as evidence of my melancholy character. To my Edwardian great-aunts, it would have been evidence of future posture and moral problems; a sign that I might not be fit for the muscular, Christian manhood that the imperial projects […]

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Waiting, Watching, Reaching, Rising

“This stark universe forms within as well as without. It is haunted by the consequences of isolation, indifference and exploitation and by specters of fear, failure, self-hate and self-defeat. These remove us from contact and co-embodiment, encouraging us to self-differentiate into categories of immunization: users versus useless, fit versus fat, lovable versus loathsome. Notionally free […]

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Heroes, Archetypes & Politics

“Perhaps, there’s a need to revisit another category of heroism: virtuous action and extraordinary bravery that arises out of something other than adherence to a personal code or ruined chivalric hierarchy, or to action in its own right as a dare to chance or fate. What about heroism dedicated to human commonalty; driven by loyalty […]

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Heads & Tales: Story in An Age of (dis)Information

“I suspect that Walter Benjamin, should he return, shuddering, to our era, would protest the sirens urging us toward the shoals of some epic chimera of greatness or defensive unity. I think he would also resist refuge at some cozy preindustrial hearth or in some rewilded grove. I wonder what he would make of successor […]

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So, What Are We Doing Wrong: On Absent Mercies (Best of “Hubris”)

“In Christian worship, in the Episcopalian tradition, the Eucharistic Host is received in one’s hands, palms up and together. The gesture in the parking lot seemed as if it were allowing some harbinger of grace and mercy to drop through the widening gap between the spread hands; or perhaps the gesture framed an emptiness where […]

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